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PressRelease PDF


Title: Damascena: the tale of roses and Rumi
ISBN: 978-0-9822-797-4-8
Genre: Literary Fiction/ Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5
348 pages
$20 U.S.

Available through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Looking for blurbs? Scroll past Sufi dancers below to see Praise for Damascena!

Author Photo Credit: Darcy Nichole

HPayne_1728x2592Author Bio
Holly Lynn Payne is an internationally published novelist in ten countries whose work has been translated into eight languages. Dutton/Plume published her first two novels, The Sound of Blue and The Virgin’s Knot, her debut novel, selected as a Discover Great New Writers and Border’s Original Voices book. Her third book, Kingdom of Simplicity was nominated for a national book award in Belgium and was named to the mandatory reading list in Ghent. It has also published in the Netherlands, Taiwan and soon China, and is the winner of a Marin Arts Council Grant, first place winner of a Benjamin Franklin Award 2010 and won Grand Prize for the Writers Digest Self-Published Book Awards 2011. Payne studied journalism at the University of Richmond, where she received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010. She earned a MFA from University of Southern California and has taught throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, serving on the faculty at the Academy of Art University, California College of the Arts and Stanford. She lives in Northern California with her young daughter, and serves the literary community as a writing coach, publishing strategist and volunteer producer for Litquake. When she’s not writing or coaching other writers, she enjoys getting dirty on a mountain bike and studying integrative medicine. In 2013, she earned a master’s certification in intuition medicine from the Academy of Intuition Medicine and is licensed to practice in California. She is currently a PhD candidate for a doctorate in integrative and holistic medicine at Energy Medicine University, with a focus on creativity, consciousness and organizational leadership.

Cover Design:  Ayo Seligman

Damascena-cover-3D[1]Book Summary
Holly Payne’s spellbinding tale brings the unparalleled poet, Mevlana Rumi, to life, and transports readers to the enchanting world of 13th century Persia. Simply but elegantly told, the story unravels the mystery surrounding a legendary orphaned girl, who discovers her gift of turning roses into oil. Named after the flowering rosa damascena, the girl reluctantly assumes the role of a living saint for the miracles she performs—longing for the only one that matters: finding her mother. Deeply wounded by the separation since birth, Damascena undergoes a riveting transformation when she meets Rumi and finally discovers the secret of the rose. Imbued with rich historical research and inspired by the devastating disappearance of Rumi’s most lauded spiritual companion, Shams of Tabriz, Holly Payne has courageously opened herself to receive Rumi’s teachings and offer a timeless love story. Inspiring and magical, the story of Damascena transmits the wisdom of the heart, inviting us to transform our pain into love.



HollyPayneSyufi103June 5,  7 p.m.  Summer of Ecstatic Love: book launch benefit for Litquake, Fort Mason, San Francisco

July 19, 7 p.m.  Book Passage, Corte Madera

Aug. 14  7 p.m.  Women Authors Series. A special evening of readings about love with award-winning authors Mollie Giles, Holly Lynn Payne, Eve Pell, and Susan Trot, O’Hanlan Center for the Arts with , Mill Valley

Aug. 18  Litquake Palo Alto 2014 at the JCC, 4:15 panel: Cultural Immersions: International Tales
Moderator: Brenda Webster – After Auschwitz: A Love Story
Yangsze Choo – The Ghost Bride
Kathryn Ma – The Year She Left Us
Holly Payne – Damascena: the tale of roses and Rumi
Ellen Sussman – A Wedding in Provence

Aug. 28, 7 p.m.  Reading & Q&A for Damascena at Aaron’s Books, 35 E. Main Street, Lititz, PA

Sept. 14, Write on Mamas, Guest Speaker, O’Hanlan Center for the Arts, Mill Valley, 5 – 6 p.m.

Sept. 20, Mill Valley Library Benefit Reading, Throckmorton Theater, Mill Valley

Sept. 23  Google Author Talk, Guest Speaker, San Francisco, noon – 1 p.m.

Oct. 11  Litquake, Hybrid Publishing Models: A Writer’s Dream? Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter St., San Francisco 2 p.m.



Praise for DAMASCENA


Damascena is a stunner. Holly Payne takes us into the yearning at the heart of the mystic’s search. She turns the Sufi quest for connection with God into a human drama that is both moving and soaring.”

-Tamim Ansary, author of Games without Rules: The Often-Interrupted History of Afghanistan

Holly Payne has deftly captured the magic, beauty, and ecstatic energy of the Sufi’s ancient sema dance with her story about a girl, Damascena, whose life transcends her own world, and ours. The prose transports the reader creating astonishing characters and at times, a thriller-like the plot, carrying us into a world that is part hallucination and part real as Payne weaves in themes of loss, beauty, devotion, evil, struggle, magic, and, ultimately, love.”

-David Ewing Duncan, best-selling author of Experimental Man: What one man’s body reveals about his future, your health, and our toxic world

is a captivating read, with a beautifully satisfying ending. In her meticulously researched novel, Holly Payne’s expertly crafted prose captures not only the souls of her characters but the essence of Rumi’s wisdom: that life’s shattering experiences can break our hearts open, ultimately compelling us to receive the love intended for us. I loved this book.”

-Kristen Harnisch, author of The Vintner’s Daughter

“Holly Payne lives inside her characters. Seeing through their eyes and feeling with their hearts, she illuminates the soul personality in each portrayal. Ms. Payne is an intuitive writer who lets life rip through the pages. Damascena is storytelling embedded with timeless wisdom.”

-Francesca McCartney, PhD, author Body of Health: The New Science of Intuition Medicine®
Founder, Academy of Intuition Medicine® & Energy Medicine University

“Read Damascena! Love will come alive for you in the life of Rumi. Holly Payne is a wildly gifted writer serving the great cause of love with discerning devotion, insight and lyrical prose.”

-Dr. Marc Gafni, author Your Unique Self, The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment
Co-Founder, Teacher in Residence, Center for Integral Wisdom

“Holly Payne’s latest novel touches Jelaluddin Rumi’s essential beauty within the fragrance of 13th century Turkey and the rich tapestry of his life as a mystic, poet and honored scholar. Payne exposes the very human challenges Rumi encountered as he grew into one of the greatest poets of all time.”

-Murshida Mariam Baker, author of Woman as Divine: Tales of the Goddess
senior teacher, Sufi Ruhaniat International and the Mevlevi Order of America

“This is one of the most gorgeous novels I’ve ever read. Payne’s research was so thorough. It makes me want to learn more about the dervishes, their religious practices, and about Rumi and his achingly beautiful poetry. The themes of forgiveness, spirituality and all the different forms of love resonated with me on every page.”

-Laura Marquez, Emmy Winner and former ABC News Correspondent